10 vs 12 Miter Saw Comparison

Ever since the 12 inch miter saw became rather common, the obvious question arises: 10 vs 12 inch miter saw, which one is better? To this day there’s no definitive answer even though they clearly offer different cutting results.

Would you be surprised to learn that this hung jury is not that big of a deal? Not every comparison has to end in a winner, sometimes comparisons are just for the purpose of highlighting differences.

This article will do just that, highlight the clear differences so that you’ll have a better understanding why the 10 vs 12 inch debate is a bit overrated. After familiarizing yourself with the features that make each saw better for a certain task, you might just be ready to sort through some elite miter saw choices and pick your perfect tool.

This video shows you a nice comparison between the 10 inch and 12 inch miter saw

10 Inch Miter Saw

Just as the 8.5” miter saw was once the most popular, the 10 inch miter saw is perhaps today’s most popular size. It’s powerful and has the ability to work with both soft and hardwood, provided that the blade is high-quality and designed for cutting wood efficiently.

The 10 inch miter saw can cut through a 4×4 but it may take flipping the material over to get the job done.In any event, it is capable. Now, do you want to risk going through blades like crazy just so you don’t have to upgrade your saw? That’s not productive from a financial standpoint.

While a 10 inch miter saw can somewhat match the cutting ability of a 12 inch miter saw, it doesn’t mean you should use the bigger saw if you don’t have to. Small projects such as cutting plywood and anything around the maximum recommended depth and thickness of your tool, are what you should be using your 10 inch miter saw for.

If you can’t use both and you’re not too sure about what type of woodworking you will do, then it’s probably better to get a 12 inch over a 10 inch just to be sure you’ll have enough power and blade clearance for deeper cuts. That being said, buying a 12 inch miter saw when it’s unclear if you’ll ever cut through anything deeper than 6” could be a waste of money.

Another aspect that’s worth considering is that a 10 inch miter saw will spin the blade just as fast if not faster than a 12 inch saw. And, although TPI does matter in terms of fine cutting, a very fast spinning blade might just be on par with a bigger yet slower spinning blade on smaller projects.

12 Inch Miter Saw

Judging by the size alone, it should be obvious that a 12” miter saw blade will be able to perform deeper cuts than a 10” saw. What’s interesting is that when you do a miter saw comparison based on the finesse of the cut, the 12” shows better results. For other saws, it’s usually the thinner and smaller blade that leaves smooth edges and keeps the dust production to a minimum.

10 inch versus 12 inch miter saw

When it comes to a 12 inch miter saw’s ability to make fine cuts, it’s all about the teeth per inch or TPI rating. 12” blades can easily be found with 60 and even 80 TPI,up from the standard 24 TPI for compound and regular miter saws. 10 inch blades don’t share this wide TPI range

A 10” blade will cut along the grain of a 4×4. Sometimes it depends on the tool rather than the blade but even then, you’ll probably need to do a 2-step cut.However, a 12 inch miter saw will outperform any 10 inch miter saw at ripping no matter how thick or small the piece of wood is.

Now, does all this mean that you should just get a 12 inch miter saw and be done with it? Well, the truth is that you don’t always need one. If your projects don’t involve a lot of 4×4 cutting or 2×12 boards crosscutting, then you don’t need a 12 inch miter saw. A good quality 10” saw will do the trick in small projects and the difference wouldn’t be as noticeable as the extra money you may pay for a 12 inch model.

10 vs 12 Miter Saw Blade Compatibility

Not many amateur woodworkers know this but some(emphasis on some) 12 inch miter saws can be equipped with a 10 inch blade. If the saw comes with an arbor that allows for both 10” and 12” blades to be mounted and used at high speed, you can essentially get the best of both worlds.

This means that you can also counteract the increased feedback of 12” saws by using the smaller blade when the big one is not necessary. It also means you can cut into soft wood with the small blade and get a finer cut instead of ruining the edges with the big blade.

10 or 12 inch miter saw

However, keep in mind that just because you can switch blades doesn’t mean you’ll also be squeezing more power out of your saw. The size or weight of the blade has no effect over the RPM. Because of this, some argue that it can be in fact better to either just use one saw or the other, or both when you can afford it, instead of switching blades on a one-trick-pony motor.

You can learn more on this subject as well as other common woodworking and miter saw topics on the woodworking talk forum.


Both saws are quite different in what they can achieve. They may seem interchangeable but the results are not that great when you do switch between them for certain tasks. A 12 inch miter saw may seem like a good idea because it has superior cutting power for ripping and it achieves deeper cuts, but it can also leave you with a lot of edge sanding to do if you use it on thin wood.

The same thing goes for the 10 inch saw which can virtually do everything a 12 inch can do, it just takes it two runs to do it. However, this might reduce the life of the blade. Pick the one you know you’ll be working with the most, and if you’re really that unsure about your future projects, check listings for miter saws that offer both 10” and 12” blade compatibility.

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